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Bible Study & Sunday School: Sun-10:45AM

None of us could have guessed what we’d see in 2020. One of the most overlooked stories has been the censorship over the last year. I remember a couple years ago we found out that Facebook, Twitter, and big tech were complicit with the Chinese Communist Party with censorship of their people. We were collectively appalled that tech companies based in the U.S. would be complicit in the suppression of information for Chinese citizens. Fast-forward a couple years and we have an iron curtain of censorship in our own country. Very few seemed to have noticed or care. Anyone with a different point of view is censored, ridiculed, and fired. Speech and dissent in many ways has been shut down.  

One dare not question the narrative. One dare not question mainstream media, big tech, big government, and big pharma. Do you remember those bumper sticks that used to say, “Question Authority”? You just don’t see those much anymore. But if you do question authority, these days, your Facebook account, your Twitter, will be shut down. Many credible doctors have lost their jobs for daring to speak out.

The thing is, folks prefer to live in a nice cozy world. It’s convenient to believe that mainstream media, big tech, big pharma, and government institutions are motivated by goodwill and are all just looking out for you.

But fear has long been used as a weapon against people. Fear is paralyzing, but for them, but for the social engineers, it’s profitable.

May God give to us all calm confidence during these times. May He strengthen us to fear nothing except losing Him.

Tonight Jesus says, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”

On New Year’s Eve, it only makes sense that we focus our attention on the Second Coming of Christ. He is coming soon to end this world as we know it and to usher in something far better – a new heaven and new earth where peace and righteousness dwell. No tears, no pain, only supernal bliss – and worship before the Lamb on His throne. This old earth is spinning around for one reason, and one reason only, so that more people will reach repentance and receive eternal life.

That’s ultimately the best way to interpret all the events that we go through. Everything that we see going on in the world around us. As opportunities to see our great need for Christ and His salvation.

The biggest threat we face is not Covid, lockdowns, or our social engineers. The greatest danger we faced in this past year, and the greatest danger we face in the year to come, is our own sin. And it’s sin left unchecked that threatens to separate us from God and land us in hell forever.

You see, the greatest conspiracy and lie this world has ever seen is the will of man to unseat God from His throne and be the managers of our own lives. That is the ultimate lie, the ultimate self-deception, to be our own gods. To turn away from the God of love and forge our own way. For that primal sin, we must repent. And remember that our times are in God’s hands.   

Tonight Jesus tell us to be ready when He comes and to stay awake. You see, the church and the world are awake, but for very different reasons. The lonely world will watch the bizarre quasi-religious ceremony of a ball dropping in an empty Times Square, they’ll count the seconds down to midnight. But Christians have something far greater. For we wait and joyfully keep vigil for our Lord’s return, who promises to rescue us from every evil and to bring us to Himself in heaven. We are here, in these bodies and lives, for just such a time as this, to trust in God with everything we’ve got and to love and serve our neighbor.  

Who knows what the new year will bring? Every year at this time, I remind you that this new year is Anno Domini. That means “the Year of the Lord.” So 2021 will also be a year of our Lord, in His control. It is all in His hands. Your life and those you love are in His hands. Hands that were stretched out and crucified for your salvation. Hands that gave blessings on the day that He rose and day He ascended to the right hand of His Father in heaven.

Those same were placed on you tonight, through His minister, announcing that all your sins have been forgiven by His blood and removed as far as the east is from the west. That He remembers no more.   

As we begin a new year we’re up against a lot. Difficult days ahead in this strange and bizarre social experiment, which seems to be getting ratcheted up by the day. So admittedly, the short-term prospect is unsettling, but the long term diagnosis for those who will trust in Christ is always exceedingly good and rosy.

The church ends the calendar year in a different way than the rest of the world. Isaiah told us how in our reading. In returning and rest … in quietness and in trust. God is our strength.

In our epistle text tonight, the apostle gives us some of the most comforting words in all Holy Scripture. He asks us great question for 2021: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” 

Tonight, Christ Himself dresses for action to serve you. At the altar you recline at His side, and He comes to serve you with His heavenly gifts – which should make you cheerful, filled with confidence in His promises, and eager to serve Him in this poor life of labor.   

Christ died, He rose, and He intercedes for us! What discomfort and distresses will the new year bring? Who knows? But Christ promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us but will work all things together for those who love Him. And we do love Him.

So come what may, Paul says tonight that nothing, absolutely nothing in all creation, can separate us from the love of God. That simple promise should be more than enough for a happy new year. In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

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